BIRKA EXPRESS & HANSE VISION Collision in the Kiel Canal (NOK) between HANSE VISION and BIRKA EXPRESS on 12 January 2009
The investigation in question is conducted by the German accident investigation authority BSU (Bundesstelle für Seeunfalluntersuchnung).
The HANSE VISION was sailing from Hamburg to Copenhagen. The vessel reached Brunsbüttel lock on 12 January 2009.
At 13.50 (Unless stated otherwise, all times shown in this report are local = CET = UTC +1), she began her eastward canal passage as a Traffic Group (VG) 4 vessel under pilot advice.
The collective call at 1345 informed the ship’s command about upcoming vessels while they were passing through the lock. The ship’s command was aware that the would pass the upcoming BIRKA EXPRESS in the Kudensee siding area.
Shortly before the encounter in the Kudensee siding area, the pilot reportedly observed the BIRKA EXPRESS began to turn to port and then pass through the canal axis with her forecastle. Following that , he reportedly gave the command ‘FULL ASTERN’. An evasion manoeuvre was not possible without putting the ORKA at risk, which was sailing just ahead on the starboard side. Nevertheless, the canal helmsman reportedly tired to move as far as possible to starboard. However, a collision was no longer avoidable.
The BIRKA EXPRESS was sailing from Helsinki to Hull. She passed westward through the NOK as s Traffic Group 5 vessel under pilot advice on 12 January 2009. Due to the collective call at 1345, the ship’s command knew that a Traffic Group 4 container vessel was approaching them and would be passed in the Kudensee siding area.
To reduce the vessel’s speed in good time before reaching the stop signal without compromising steerability, the pitch of the propeller was reportedly set to ‘ZERO’ and then to 50% ASTERN. The hydrodynamic effect of this pronounced astern manoeuvre and the increasing wind pressure moved the vessel to port. The forecastle with the superstructure of the partially loaded vessel then turned further to port and the stern approached the dolphins on the northern side. In spite of all the subsequent manoeuvres, it was not possible to prevent a collision.
The impact was reportedly very severe. However, the vessels parted from one another immediately. Damage was assessed and Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) informed. Both vessels were still fully manoeuvrable. While the HANSE VISION sailed onwards for Kiel, the BIRKA EXPRESS ended her canal passage in Brunsbüttel and moored on the dolphins in the inland port there.
Download here the investigation report